Date: 6th century BC
Although the author of the book of Lamentations is not mentioned, there is no doubt that it is Jeremiah. Written by an eyewitness to the destruction of the city of Jerusalem, the book expresses his grief over this event. That is the reason for writing Lamentations. It is a song in the style and rhythm of an old Jewish funeral chant. The 1st line of the two-line couplets consists of 3 parts, the 2nd line of 2 parts (A, B, C; A1, B1). The repetition of this rhythm, known as kinah rhythm, with the systematic absence of the 3rd part, symbolizes the absence of a loved one who has died. In this case it is the city of Jerusalem.
We can hardly imagine what the fall of this city meant to the Jewish people. They lost everything:
For the survivors, this fall meant a forced journey, which had to be walked to the land of Babylon. There they had to try to survive in exile. These horrors are lamented in this book.
This book does not only mourn the past. It is a warning that calamity results from the sins we commit. The prophets predicted that God would punish the sins of the people if they did not repent. The smoking ruins of the city of Jerusalem were evidence that God had spoken and kept His word. Lamentations are clear evidence of the wrath of God, an unloved subject. Most people prefer to emphasize the meekness of God. Rightly so, but that emphasis should never obscure the fact that God does not allow himself to be walked on. When our neighbor's need is ignored, God will step in to right those wrongs. From the Middle Ages, Jewish men at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem read Lamentations every Sabbath night to commemorate the fall of the city. But Lamentations also has another side. Though Judah has been crushed, hope has remained. Still the people of GOD can find grace and trust in Him. The mercy of GOD is new every morning and His faithfulness is great (3:19-39). The importance of patience, prayer, and acknowledgment of guilt is highlighted in this book.
1. Judah's despair and sorrow (1:1-22),
2. The Wrath of God (2:1-22),
3. Judah's hope in the grace of God (3:1-66),
4. The Future Glory of Judah (4:1-22),
5. Concluding prayer (5:1-22).